With the lack of rainfall over the summer months, much of the open space vegetation has become extremely dry and susceptible to fire. Dry and hot Santa Ana winds during the fall months contribute to increased wildfire risk. Wildfires pose a serious threat in Orange County, making it essential for residents to help prevent wildfires from starting and stay prepared in case a wildfire occurs in their area.
Orange County residents can take steps to ensure they are adequately prepared if their home is threatened by a wildfire. Create a defensible zone for your home by reducing the possible risk factors that can fuel a fire. Remove dead and dying plants within 100 feet of structures, reduce and thin vegetation to minimize fires from spreading, and replace fire-prone plants with fire-resistant plants. Harden structures to reduce the chance of ignition from direct flame, flying embers and radiant heat from fire outside your defensible zone.
Residents can also prepare by creating an emergency evacuation plan for their family and practicing it with everyone in their home. Discuss routes to leave your neighborhood and designate a meeting place. Stay alert with the latest updates from your local news media and fire department during this wildfire season. Do not return to your home until it has been deemed safe by local firefighters.
Although we cannot prevent every wildfire, we can all be more cautious and aware of our surroundings and be ready to report or stop potential wildfire threats. Whether you are driving or working near an area that is susceptible to wildfires, be sure to report the situation by calling 911 immediately. Wildfires can quickly spread across our communities and natural habitats, even if it begins in a remote location. When Santa Ana winds are present, they can push fires and carry embers to nearby neighborhoods, putting properties, human lives and wildlife in danger.
Local authorities, organizations and programs, including the Orange County Fire Watch program, work tirelessly to ensure the public is safe and the wildlands are prepared throughout wildfire seasons. Orange County Fire Watch staff and volunteers monitor high-risk areas of Orange County to report and assist with early detection of fire ignition sources. For those interested in volunteering with the Fire Watch program, please call (714) 508-4700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Orange County residents are also encouraged to obtain more information on OCFA.org/RSG and sign up for emergency notifications on AlertOC.org.